Unfinished Work

It is important to establish if your builder has actually left your site because there was a problem with the work they were doing or has there been had an issue with team or subcontractor he employs? If it is the case that there is a dispute, it is vital to evaluate the project to work out what your options are. How much is your build worth? How far away are you from finishing the build? How much have you paid over and how much would you need to spend to correct the problems?

If you have a contract and your builder walks off site, having not completed the work, that act can be considered what is called a ‘repudiatory breach’.

This means that one party of the contract has done something so serious; it brings the contract to an immediate end. Walking off the site, refusing to return and finish would be a good example. You can ask the builder to do whatever is necessary to get the work done properly to cover the costs and materials.

Under the terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, if the builder has breached your contract by not doing the work as agreed. You can ask the builder to fix the problem within a reasonable amount of time.

Top Tip: Under the CRA 2015 make sure that the original builder is given the time to fix the issue before instructing another builder to complete the work.

If the builder fails to address the problem within the deadline then it would be a good step to request a quotation from another party to understand how much it will cost to get to completion. This will allow you to consider if it is something you wish to pursue as legal fees do tend to escalate quickly. Where a build has gone wrong, and there is a claim there, a variety of professionals are likely to be involved. The work done will need to be evaluated, against the value of the project in total, and evaluate any costs it may take to complete the project.

Top Tip: You may need to seek legal advice before instructing another company or builders to take over the work. Additionally, another builder are hesitant to take over a partially completed build or provide a quote free of charge so there will be a cost to this element.
Top Tip: It is possible that additional build work could hide or destroy evidence and of course that could diminish the strength of any claim that homeowner has against the builder.

You can ask for partial or full refund dependant on the work left to complete. If you can come to an agreement on the amount then you seek refund within 14 days. Otherwise, you can take the matter to the county court but you should consider the cost of bringing any such action and the likelihood of recovering these costs and damages from the builder. This is particularly important if the builder might be facing financial difficulties and might become insolvent.

When a building cannot be completed it causes issues with insurances, mortgages, certificates cannot be signed off, additional costs are created and the homeowner is left with an unfinished project that could be un-inhabitable and still full of defects. A contract is invaluable in minimising the risk of this happening.

The statutory rights (goods must match the description given to them, be of satisfactory quality and fit for a particular purpose and services must be carried out with reasonable skill and care). CRA 2015 makes it clear that the trader or builder is not allowed to exclude or restrict liability to consumers for breach of statutory rights.

In fact, CRA provides additional and extended remedies (including rights to reject, repair, replacement and price reductions/refund) where businesses fall short. These are:

1. A right to repeat performance of the service within a reasonable time and without inconvenience to the consumer. This remedy is only available where the service has not been performed with reasonable care and skill

2. A right to a price reduction by an appropriate amount. The amount of the reduction is left for negotiation between trader and consumer and would normally be the difference between the value of the service the consumer paid for and the value of what was received. Where incorrect information about the trader has been given, the service provided may be of the same value, but the guidance accompanying the CRA indicates that the trader should still negotiate a price reduction.

If you have any complaints about your builder’s work then you should contact the builder and give them the chance to put it right. If they fail to address the issue, you should check if they have an official complaint procedure and follow it up with your complaint to the builder.

You should check if the builder is a member of a Trade Association which can assist you with your complaint or advise you on what to do next.

You may consider checking the builder’s website or notepaper to see if they belong to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme whereby an Arbitrator or Ombudsman can look at the evidence and make a decision about your complaint rather than going to court.
If the work is dangerous or unsafe then you should report the builder to the Trading Standards. (Top Tip: Only HEALTH SAFETY EXECUTIVE can take builders to Court on the issue of health safety)

Altion Law are specialists at advising and representing parties in a Contractual Dispute relating to a Construction Project.  If you would like to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please complete our Contact Us Form, and we will call you back at a time that is suitable for you or you can contact us directly on 01908 414990.

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